“We have heard through Senate questions that Ian Macfarlane is making plans to come and meet with Muckaty Traditional Owners.
Earlier this year I travelled a long way to Canberra by myself to talk to former Minister Gary Gray.
At the same time the Northern Land Council was taking a group of people to Spain to look at the nuclear waste dump there.
I invited Gary Gray to Tennant Creek to meet us, but the NLC mob didn’t ask me to come and meet him. They didn’t tell a lot of people about that meeting, just the ones they wanted to go along.
I went to the meeting in my own vehicle and told Gary Gray he could have stopped it then, but now we have to go around in circles again and tell the new Minister the same thing.
I sent a letter to Minister Macfarlane, along with my mum Bunny Nabarula and my sister-in-law Dianne Stokes, to come here and meet with us. If he comes, we want the NLC to invite everyone to come along and meet him, not just pick one little group.
We all want to have our say.
We aren’t going to let the dump go ahead because we are strong and want to protect the land from being destroyed.”
With an eye to what is happening with the Muckaty Federal Court case over proposed radioactive waste facility – and an eye to the role of anthropological reports – in this piece of “written thinking” i try to tease out why the role of ‘descent’ in the statutory definition of ‘traditional Aboriginal owners’ (Land Rights NT Act) is so resistant to change.
Whose interests are served by this resistance to changes – changes which would bring Australian Commonwealth law into better alignment with First Peoples realities?
In the 21st century, now is time for us to seriously tackle the process of rethinking life – a rethinking which which is inherent in the encounter between European understanding and First Peoples Ways.
Time to replace the mis-managers with the those with proven life-management credentials – and that ain’t the return to yesteryear and the tired old men in the Abbott government.
This bit of writing is merely a bit of brain-food mixture for those of us who nibble at the edges of this healing challenge.
Real change comes from lived practice, but – ha! energy follows thought!
Google doc at:
The proposed sitting of the Federal Court in Darwin ( week commencing 23 September) to hear evidence from elderly Warlmanpa people did not proceed.
Maurice Blackburn lawyer Elizabeth O’Shea said ” … the preservation evidence hearing was vacated. The judge was not convinced by the medical evidence we put forward so decided not to proceed.”
Given that the greatly shortened life-span of indigenous people is a well-established fact, and that ageing Aunty Bunny is already defying the odds, it is to be hoped that the Judge made the right decision.
The case does not begin until June 2014.
Meanwhile Maurice Blackburn are ” … preparing for trial and the NLC is currently preparing their anthropological material.”
Look forward with real interest to learning more about that!
Sydney region friends please come to this gig to support the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.
There will also be a dance performance by Dayashakti Geeti and a Fukushima documentary clip shown called ‘Reactor’.
Tickets are door sales only: $25 or $20 concession.
The event starts at 7:30pm and refreshments will be available.
Please note this event is being held in the Church and is strictly alcohol and drug free.
Please share the event information with all family and friends and support Aboriginal communities on the frontline of nuclear and uranium projects in Australia.
Facebook event: page: https://www.facebook.com/events/171386159719691/?fref=ts
“Indigenous Affairs will be brought into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. In effect, Australia will have a prime minister for indigenous affairs as well as a dedicated indigenous affairs minister. We need to achieve more to ensure that children go to schools, adults go to work and the ordinary rule of the land operates in Aboriginal communities.” Tony Abbott, Letter to people of Australia
And how does the ethnocidal spirit contained in PM elect Abbott’s vision sit with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
Based on our knowledge of how these things work, we can safely conjecture about a conspiracy of silence among the pro-nuclear forces regarding their longer term ambitions for using parts of Australia as sites:
for the storage of waste radioactive materials for uranium produced in Australia and sold overseas
for the storage of all manner of global radioactive waste in the name of securing an economic base.
Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is the only significance figure who is publicly promoting this absurd scheme. The fact he feels comfortable in speaking about such matters in the midst of a Federal election suggests that other – and supportive – conversations take place well out of sight of the public.
”It’s a no-brainer,” he says. ”If you’ve got the safest geological sites in the world, why haven’t you got the moral responsibility to make them available?” ( http://www.smh.com.au/national/hawke-drops-a-nucleartinged-poll-bombshell-20130823-2sh7p.html )
No brainer indeed. Such an action would inevitably result in radioactive contamination of large areas of Australia for countless generations
Aside from the dubious concept of our moral responsibility for the actions of the uranium industry, there are plenty of other factors which reasoned and rational debate need to be properly considered. Some very basic indeed.
Former PM Hawke, who invokes the stable geology of the northern Australia as one of the main reasons for promoting such as scheme, must also be aware the an earlier scheme to locate a toxic waste incinerator in Tennant Creek (south of Muckaty) was shelved after a major earthquake in the area during then PM Hawke’s 1988 Bi-Centenary celebrations resulted in a crack in the surface of the earth said (at the time) to be 50km in length.
One of the main selling points of the Tennant Creek area for the toxic waste incinerator – one which was to justify long trips to relocate hazardous materials from distant places – was the stable geological foundations. 1988 changed all that:
“Tennant Creek is the only place in Australia’s recorded history to experience three powerful earthquakes – incredibly all in one day”, said Dr Bathgate.
The series of earthquakes occurred on 22 January 1988 measuring magnitude 6.3, 6.4 and 6.7. The earthquakes produced large ground ruptures and a 35km long fault scarp with up to two metres vertical displacement, causing structural damage and severe warping of a major natural gas pipeline.
“Senior Seismologist Dr Jonathan Bathgate said the area has a known seismic history, and is identified as having high seismic hazard.”
But science has been effectively gagged by the political process in this whole debate.
And – since handling radioactive waste and First Peoples relations to country are very complex matter – many everyday folk rely on the lead taken by unbiased experts in such matters.
There has been a complete lack of leadership taken in this debate by both scientific experts and by professional anthropologists with standing in Universities.
Post-Fukushima we have to ask if this superannuated silence sits squarely with the prestige bestowed upon them as part of the wider society’s allocation of a scarce social good?
The silence of people whose professional expertise must enable them to see aspects of these problems which may be unclear to everyday folk provides the prefect complement for conspiracies of silence by those who seek to make short-term profits through the use of radioactive products.
Commercial-in-confidence clauses are invoked to cloak secret board room deals, and it is clear from the Commonwealth’s government legislative schemes that the politicians will craft legislation which accommodates the same hidden spirit.
With the election of the Abbott lead Liberal-National Party Coalition government, all those pro-nuclear forces to the right of former Prime Minister Hawke will now be able to invoke his name for their schemes. Schemes which, frankly, not only rubbish country but will rubbish country for eons to come.
The need for all experts to speak up and add their contributions to the wider debate about safe and secure radioactive waste management has never been greater.
Beyond Nuclear Initiative
September 5, 2013
Dump under the pump: Pressure grows against Muckaty radioactive waste plan.
Territory trade unions, medico’s and environmentalists have been joined by their national counterparts in a call to end a planned radioactive waste dump in the NT.
The groups have placed an advertisement (attached) in the Tennant and District Times today to highlight their concerns over federal plans to dump radioactive waste on Aboriginal land at Muckaty, north of Tennant Creek and their commitment to continuing campaigning on the dump plan after this Saturday’s federal election.
Australia’s peak trade union body the ACTU has joined Unions NT, Public Health Association of Australia, Medical Association for the Prevention of War and national and NT environmental organisations in the call to dump the dump.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said unions had adopted a policy at last year’s ACTU Congress to oppose a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory. “We stand in solidarity with the traditional owners and communities and with environmental groups resisting federal government plans for a radioactive waste dump,” she said.
“We reject any legislation which would continue to target a site on the Muckaty Land Trust or any other site in Australia, for a nuclear waste dump that is not based on recognised science and international best practices.”
Traditional Owners taking legal action against the dump plan have urged all political parties to halt the plan until the Federal Court has considered key issues of ownership, consultation and consent.
The groups placing the ad are calling for an independent National Commission to advance responsible radioactive waste management in Australia – an approach that has been widely used internationally, but never adopted in Australia.
“After decades of targeting remote sites there has been little progress made. A Commission would consider all options of management and give all stakeholders a chance to input,” said the ECNT’s Lauren Mellor. It is time for politicians to come clean on where they stand in relation to this dirty dump plan-Territorians have a right to know where their federal candidates stand on this issue.”